BY BRUCE DEACHMAN, OTTAWA CITIZEN
As many Filipinos look in desperation to the rest of the world for help in the grim aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, a couple of Ottawa expats are already on the ground in that country, delivering aid to people who need it most.
Since Monday, Jonathan Kennedy and Jean-Patrick Bisson, each in his 30s and raised in Ottawa, have been putting together and delivering food packages to families in nearby Bantayan, a community north of Cebu City especially hard hit by the typhoon that has claimed more than 3,600 lives in the Philippines and left upwards of 600,000 people homeless since it struck last week. They’ve been joined in the task by friends, volunteers and many of the 50 employees who work for them at their Clicking Labs offices in Cebu City,
Clicking Labs is an marketing company aimed at helping small and medium-size businesses grow through online strategies.
Even within the country, and largely because the power had been out since Friday, it took a couple of days for reports of the extent of the damage to circulate.
“In the city, we felt the storm, but not anywhere near as hard as the province next to us and to the north of us,” Kennedy said Friday. “And most of the international attention has been focused on Tacloban, while a lot of areas weren’t getting the attention they deserved — there just aren’t enough resources, but these people are lacking food and shelter.”
Meanwhile, as he drove to port to make the two-hour boat ride to Bantayan, at 4:30 a.m. local time, he noted numerous children standing alongside the road, arms outstretched for food or money, the trees behind them clear cut to make way for relief efforts.
So every day this week, the team he’s a part of has packed 2,000 food parcels, each containing a kilogram of dry corn, two packages of dry noodles, two cans of sardines and a litre of water — enough to feed a family of five for one day. On average, they’re delivering about three tons of food a day, at a cost of about $4,500.
They plan to continue for another couple of weeks, or until the packages aren’t needed anymore.
“This week the need is food,” he said, “but we think it’s going to evolve quickly into them needing medical supplies and shelter.
“People here completely lost their homes because of the wind. And they’re not built here like they are back home; they’re very much built with tin roofs and plywood walls. They can’t withstand a lot of wind. They’re gone.”
For Kennedy and Bisson, the impact of the typhoon isn’t just some abstract and distant idea: eight of Clicking Labs’ employees have family members left homeless by the typhoon.
“We don’t have as big an impact as the Red Cross, but we know the area and can get help quickly to where it’s needed,” said Kennedy “We can make a difference in small communities, to first get people fed, and then rebuild their homes.”
Anyone interested in contributing financially to these particular relief efforts can do so through their Clicking Labs’ philanthropic arm, IT Matters where Paypal is being used to accept donations with this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: This article is originally published at this website:
NOTE: Jonathan Kennedy (my son) and his business partners JP Bisson and Diana Quartin also operate the online chatroom business Offerchat